Reading difficulties in Chinese (L1) and English (L2): Co-occurrence and cognitive and perceptual correlates in Hong Kong children

Project: Research project

Project Details


Is it possible to have a reading difficulty in Chinese but not in English or vice versa? What does this dissociation (or overlap) indicate about cognitive and perceptual underpinnings of reading? The proposed study attempts to answer these questions by testing for reading difficulties in Chinese and English among 80 Hong Kong second graders with dyslexia (in Chinese) and 80 children without dyslexia matched by age, nonverbal IQ, and parental background measure s. All children will be tested on phonological processing, morphological awareness, and rapid automatized naming skills,measures typically linked to reading skills in one or both orthographies, as well as English word reading. Children scoring in the lowest 20% on the English word reading test (based on norms from other Hong Kong second graders) will be designated as having specific reading difficulties in English. Testing will yield a) an estimate of the co-occurrence of reading difficulties in Chinese and English and b) an indication of those cognitive tasks that best explain Chinese dyslexia, English word reading problems, and/or both, in Hong Kong Chinese children. We will also use event-related potentials (ERPs) to further explore the extent to which auditory and/or speech perception may underpin reading difficulties in Chinese as a first language (L1) and English as a foreign language (EFL). Here, 15 children each in one of four categories (1) dyslexic in Chinese; adequate English word reading, 2) dyslexic in Chinese; English reading problems, 3) low word reading in English only, 4) no reading difficulties in either Chinese or English) will be tested on four contrasts, two auditory (temporal processing and amplitude modulation) and two speech (voice onset time and lexical tone, both in Chinese) tasks. All will be administered as forced choice behavioral decision tasks, with both accuracy and speed data recorded. ERP responses to general auditory patterns and speech-specific responses will also be recorded . Data analyses will focus on distinguishing which tasks best identify those with and without reading difficulties in Chinese and English, demonstrating the importance of a) general temporal and rhythmic auditory processing and b) segmental and suprasegmental speech perception for reading in Chinese and English. Practically, such results may suggest optimal testing tools for diagnosing dyslexia in Chinese and/or reading difficulties in EFL. Theoretically, results will demonstrate similarities and differences in cognitive and perceptual correlates of reading difficulties in Chinese as compared to EFL, as well as links across these.

Funding Source: RGC - General Research Fund (GRF)
Effective start/end date01/09/1131/08/13


  • psychology
  • assessment


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